Wessex Leaf Under 16 boys – English Champions

wessex u16 photoWessex Leaf Under 16 boys are the English Champions after a 3-0 win against Ernest Bevin, London on Sunday in Kettering.

The start of the Final was delayed which caused a few more nerves than usual.  A missed dig and serves into the net from the more experienced players was proof of that but Bevin errors showed they were also feeling the pressure.  The players soon settled down as Louis Stephenson led the way with some forceful hitting. He was joined on the front row by Ed VanWingerden and Dan Harwood who both tipped intelligently to push Wessex to a 5-2 lead.     Stuff blocking from Jones and Van Wingerden halted the Bevin attack and the lead went to 12-6.    With Van Wingerden, Jones and Mohit Kerai passing accurately, setter Allen was able to control the attack.  This led to aggressive hitting from Wessex which saw Bevin making block errors and the lead went to 18-13.   Wessex seemed comfortable but Bevin fought back to level at 19-19.   The Wessex Leaf supporters were doing all they could, making lots of noise to encourage the team to go ahead again. Wyatt came to the rescue with six penetrating float serves.  This, plus a combination middle play from Allen and Wingerden, saw Wessex Leaf take the set 25-20.

Wyatt continued his excellent serving in the 2nd set and with Allen following suit Wessex stormed into a 8-3 and then 16-5 lead.  This was dream stuff and Bevin were unable to stop the flow of points.   Jones, Van Wingerden and Stephenson were smashing winners home and the score raced to 21-6.  Allen set up Wyatt and Harwood on the wings to finish the set 25-8.  Unbelievable dominance !

The whole team were playing excellent volleyball and the third set followed in the same way.   A great backcourt recovery from Jones and then one by Allen helped Wessex to a 8-3 and then 16.5 lead.  Kerai was still controlling the pass which allowed Allen to vary the Wessex attack.  There seemed no Wessex weakness as they went 22-10 up and only three points from victory.   Bevin weren’t finished though and in an all or nothing attempt started to put in some tough serves.  Wessex had switched off and suddenly Bevin had won 6 points in a row.  A time out was called to tell the team to up the level and reassert their authority. Ben McKenzie recovered a Bevin smash as Wessex got to 24-17.   Stephenson showed no nerves on Championship point to put in a serve that Bevin couldn’t return.  25-17.

It was time to celebrate !

Coach Lynn Allen said   “The boys have come a long way over the past year.  They have worked really hard and gained more match experience which has paid off with some superb performances this season.  The boys have proved themselves the best team in the country and deserve to be National Champions.  There have been a lot of people, nearly all volunteers, involved in this success and all their help and support is greatly appreciated by the team and the Club. ”

Squad – Harry Jones, Tom Allen, Ed Van Wingerden, Louis Stephenson, Sam Wyatt, Dan Harwood, Ben McKenzie, Mohit Kerai, Tom Sear, Austin Pearce, Jack Williams, Alex Beveridge,

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